25 May 2005

Taiwan encourages Pacific links with Taipei

4:09 pm on 25 May 2005

Taiwan is encouraging bilateral relations with Pacific Island countries by saying that as sovereign, independent nations they have the right to choose their own friends.

The Taiwanese trade representative in Fiji, Sherman Kuo, has told Fiji TV that Pacific Island countries including Fiji can benefit from bilateral relations with his country.

The comment comes after a diplomatic row with China sparked off after Fiji allowed the Taiwanese president, Chen Shui-bian, to make an overnight stop at Nadi and meet senior local officials.

Then last week, Fiji's health minister, Solomone Naivalu, supported Taiwan's application to be given observer status at the World Health Assembly in Geneva by saying it was not politically motivated.

Mr Kuo says Taiwan is grateful for the hospitality extended to their president by Fiji, adding that his country is not opposed to Fiji being on friendly terms with China.

Taiwan has given 15-million US dollars to regional organisations in the last 10 years and Mr Kuo says Pacific Island countries and Taiwan should strengthen relations in future.